Cockle picking on the tidal flats

Wednesday 28th October.  Day 3: Rob Witbaard and Chris Richardson led the group in some practical fieldwork investigating variability of shellfish distribution.  We took advantage of some decent weather to step out of the classroom to a nearby tidal flat where we collected cockles along three 300 metre transects then took them back to the lab to measure them and assess the length frequency distribution along the transects.

Cockle Group 2

Ready for action!


Chris and quadrat

Chris shows Irene and Ariadna how to randomly position a quadrat then hold it in position in the mud


Sieving cockles

Sarah and Juliane sieve some chunks of mud …


Cockles out of the ooze

… and slowly the cockles emerge out of the primeval slime


A luverly bag of cockles

“I’ve got a luverly bag of cockles”
Tamara (with fork), Rob (with quadrat), Stella (with scarf and wellies) and Chris (proudly displaying his cockles) after a good days work









Cockle density plot

We even got some results. Density increased strongly towards low water, but there was a sudden cutoff at the edge of the intertidal zone, perhaps because the sediment became more sandy.









Cooked cockles

But in the end you just have to cook your fieldwork ….



















Cockles on table

… and eat it !







Welcome to the Texel workshop

Posted by Paul

De Slufter, incoming saltwater through the dunes.

De Slufter, incoming saltwater through the dunes. Photo by Hans J.S.C. Jongstra

The next ARAMACC training event isn’t just a workshop.  It isn’t even a double workshop.  This time we are offering us a TRIPLE workshop featuring “Ecology of long-lived bivalves”, “Attracting funding” and “Introduction to R”.  With Rob Witbaard leading, this will take place at the world-famous Netherlands Institute of Sea Research (NIOZ) on the breezy and bracing North Sea resort island of Texel.  With this workshop happening in the last week of October, it could well be exceptionally breezy!

The workshop takes us from the welcome dinner on Sunday 25th through to Friday 30th October – or the following Monday for those who are braving the optional “R” workshop: the full schedule is here.

The workshops will feature some exciting and distinguished guests:

40f31b1eea426b60618702ea81201331Dr Bryan Black from University of Texas at Austin, dendrochronologist, sclerochronologist and proven expert in the integration of ecological variables to build multicentennial climate reconstructions.  Bryan will be introducing us to the use of multivariate analysis in ecology and leading an exercise in the application of multivariate methods to existing datasets.




Dr David Reynolds from the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Cardiff, who is currently aiming to publish the first 1,000-year annually resolved marine temperature record and who has just obtained funding from NERC for a pan-Atlantic sclerochronology project (CLAM – Climate of the LAst Millennium).  David will be contributing to the grant capture workshop.


img_2647-lavaleyeDr Marc Lavaleye, a specialist in the ecology of cold water coral reefs, will give the keynote talk at the start of the workshop on Monday.





In addition some of the ARAMACC regulars will be offering their expertise, with Julian introducing us to taxonomy and bivalve identification (useful as I suspect some of us can only identify about two species), while Chris, Paul and Rob will describe their experiences obtaining – or more often failiong to obtain – grant funding.  We’ll also – I hope (weather permitting) – get out of the classroom, when Rob takes us to sample Cerastoderma on the tidal flat.

NIOZ luchtoverzicht 1

NIOZ and the Texel ferry port

















EGU 2015 !

egu_logo_ga2015_500x500A few of us will be presenting and/or organizing the ARAMACC session at EGU in Vienna next Wednesday.  The talk session starts early at 8-30, then we have a poster session in the afternoon at 17-30.  The full session lists are below, with links to the abstracts.

And massive thanks to the co-convenors Amy, Tamara, Stella, Juan, Eduardo, Bernd and Paul for organizing everything so efficiently


Update Thursday 16th April from Vienna.  The ARAMACC session yesterday was very successful, a full session of six excellent talks (two on corals, one on giant clams, the other three on Arctica) expertly chaired and kept to time by Juan and Tamara.  The room was well filled, with many old friends coming along.  Our poster session was in the afternoon, more great presentations, marshalled by Amy and supplied with goodies by Stella.  We had a prominent position close to the beer and wine (enough said).  Photos will appear on the website in a few days.


Oral session 

Wednesday, 15 Apr 2015    8:30 – 10:15 am
Room: Y8
Chairpersons: Juan Estrella-Martinez, Tamara Trofimova


A 350 Year Cloud Cover Reconstruction Deduced from Caribbean Coral Proxies
Amos Winter, Paul Sammarco, Uwe Mikolajewicz, Mark Jury, and Davide Zanchettin

The Role of Ca and Mg in Controlling the Skeletal Composition of Scleractinian Corals
Peter Swart, Sharmila Giri, Quinn Devlin, and Jess Adkins

Daily growth and tidal rhythms resolved in modern and Miocene giant clams via ultra-high resolution LA-ICPMS analysis and image processing
Viola Warter and Wolfgang Müller

Annually resolved seawater temperature variability of the Sub-polar North Atlantic over the last 1000 years
David Reynolds, James Scourse, Ian Hall, Alexandra Nederbragt, Alan Wanamaker, Paul Halloran, Paul Butler, Chris Richardson, Jon Eiríksson, Jan Heinemeier, and Karen Luise Knudsen

Oceanographic conditions govern shell growth of Arctica islandica (Bivalvia) in surface waters off Northeast Iceland
Soraya Marali and Bernd R. Schöne

Teleconnections between proxy sites of Arctica Islandica in simulated and observed sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean
Maria Pyrina, Sebastian Wagner, and Eduardo Zorita
Poster session 

Attendance Time: Wednesday, 15 Apr, 17:30–19:00
Yellow Posters
Chairpersons: Stella Alexandroff, Amy Featherstone


Coral Records of Sea-surface Temperature, Salinity and Density in Western Indonesia: Implications to 20th Century Indonesian Throughflow Variations
Intan Suci Nurhati, Sri Yudawati Cahyarini, and Edward Boyle

Strontium/lithium ratios in shells of Cerastoderma edule – A potential temperature proxy for brackish environments
Christoph S. Füllenbach, Bernd R. Schöne, and Regina Mertz-Kraus

Annually resolved sclerochronological reconstructions of the climate variability of North Atlantic water masses around the Faroe Islands
Fabian Bonitz and Carin Andersson

Using Mg/Ca on oyster shells as paleoclimatic proxy, example from the Paleogene of Central Asia.
Laurie Bougeois, Marc de Rafélis, Gert-Jan Reichart, Lennart de Nooijer, and Guillaume Dupont-Nivet

Reconstructing coastal environmental condition in the eastern Norwegian Sea by means of Arctica islandica sclerochronological records
Tamara Trofimova and Carin Andersson

Environmental effects on shell microstructures of Cerastoderma edule
Stefania Milano, Bernd R. Schöne, and Rob Witbaard

Strontium and barium incorporation into freshwater bivalve shells
Liqiang Zhao and Bernd R. Schöne

Incremental task: Extending the existing 109 year Fladen Ground master chronology using the annual increments of the ocean quahog Arctica islandica
Juan Estrella-Martínez, Paul Butler, James Scourse, and Christopher Richardson

An annually-resolved palaeoenvironmental archive for the Eastern Boundary North Atlantic upwelling system: Sclerochronology of Glycymeris glycymeris (Bivalvia) shells from the Iberian shelf
Pedro Freitas, Carlos Monteiro, Paul Butler, David Reynolds, Christopher Richardson, Miguel Gaspar, and James Scourse

High-resolution elemental records of Glycymeris glycymeris (Bivalvia) shells from the Iberian upwelling system: Ontogeny and environmental control
Pedro Freitas, Christopher Richardson, Simon Chenery, Paul Butler, David Reynolds, Miguel Gaspar, and James Scourse

Tropical Atlantic temperature seasonality at the end of the last interglacial
Thomas Felis, Cyril Giry, Denis Scholz, Gerrit Lohmann, Madlene Pfeiffer, Jürgen Pätzold, Martin Kölling, and Sander R. Scheffers

Assessing the utility of elemental ratios as a paleotemperature proxy in shells of patelloid limpets
Lauren Graniero, Donna Surge, and David Gillikin

Examining the reproducibility of stable isotope ratios in the marine bivalve, Astarte borealis, from populations in the White Sea, Russia: implications for biological consequences of climate change
Justin McNabb and Donna Surge

Pictures from the Faroes cruise

Faroes panorama AR


Now that we are back from a very successful cruise to the Faroes and Viking Bank, we can decorate the website with some of the many pictures that were taken on the cruise.  Shortly I will put up a page on the Pictures menu, but first, Alejandro’s Flickr page is worth a visit for some stunning seascapes (such as the moody panaorama of the Faroes above) and pictures of some of the wildlife which paid us a temporary visit before being returned to the deep …

Hermit Crab AR

The business end of a hermit crab Photo Alejandro Roman



A change in the weather and a change of scenery

Glycymeris PB

Glycymeris glycymeris from Faroes Bank. Picture: Paul Butler

Morning of 13th November:  Continuing our shells collection cruise, our next site, a little further south on the Faroes Bank, came up with another surprise: hundreds of live collected specimens of Glycymeris glycymeris.  We know this species (which can live up to 200 years) from St Kilda, the west coats of Scotland and points south, but we weren’t expecting to find it this far west in the north Atlantic and as far as I know it has not been found elsewhere in the Faroes.

Sea PB2

Heavy weather between the Faroes and Viking Bank. Picture: Paul Butler

Shortly afterwards, the weather began to turn, and in the light of predicted bad weather around the Faroes, we decided to head across to our other main area of interest, where we were planning to collect shells for Tamara.  This was Viking Bank in the northern North Sea/Norwegian Sea.  Tamara and Rob planned a full 80 potential stations in three separate areas.  Winds reached force 8 on the journey across to Viking Bank, and we were thankful for the relative stability of GO Sars.  At a session of presentations in the ship’s seminar room, we got a bit of detail about the very promising progress with the ARAMACC projects.

However, when we resumed dredging earlier this morning, the first tow on Viking Bank turned up nothing except a few chunks of mud.

Evening of 14th November:  We’ve worked on two main sites on Viking Bank with variable success.  Modern Arctica islandica here are small compared with specimens from earlier in the Holocene.  This may reflect sea level rise in the area: early Holocene specimens, living when large parts of the North Sea were still dry land, would have been living in coastal environments, with more nutrients, and were therefore able to grow faster than is possible nowadays.  These older shells have the kind of size and thickness that we see nowadays in Arctica from around the UK coast.

While some trawls turned up the older shells in large numbers, more recent specimens, and especially the live animals that Tamara was most interested in seemed to be more elusive.  A small adjustment to the connection between the winch and the dredge may have had the effect of allowing the dredge to dig deeper into the sediment, and the final trawl of the afternoon shift produced about 30 live clams.